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  6. Welcome … User … Leadership Reboot in Progress … Please do not turn off or restart your computer

Welcome … User … Leadership Reboot in Progress … Please do not turn off or restart your computer

Welcome to the 19th International Studying Leadership Conference. We’re thrilled that you submitted your work and can’t wait to hear you all present.

We all know that these past 20 months have been extremely challenging, a multitude of human tragedies playing out globally. What has got most of us through these times has been human connection, digitally or otherwise, with family and friends. 

But it has also been nourishing to connect to friends in the studying leadership community. The great strengths of ISLC and the community of scholars around our journal, Leadership, have always been friendship, openness and connection. It is a date in the diary, just before Christmas, that I have always greatly looked forward to – some wonderful companionship and intellectual stimulation before winding down to see off one year and see in another. I remember vividly my first ISLC. I was a naïve and nervous PhD student attending the conference in Birmingham in 2009, someone who did not know any other delegates apart from my supervisor. Shuffling awkwardly in a corner of the pre-dinner reception, I was approached by a certain Professor Dennis Tourish, whose work I had read and admired. He engaged me in conversation, stayed with me most of the evening and introduced me to loads of new people, many of whom I know well to this day. It’s an evening I remember well and an act of kindness I cherish. In fact, the whole conference was full of approachable and interesting people. So before, during and after the conference, we hope to live up to that tradition of open and spirited intellectual company.

This year, as you know, we have gone digital. In many ways this is in keeping with the research centre through which we’re hosting this conference – Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures. Our centre is committed to research and practical engagement that enhances possibilities for equality and freedom in the work of the future. Indeed, the Open University in general has always been known for such ambitious thinking – founded in 1969 with the prescient vision of being a ‘University of the Air’. We know there is a lot of Zoom fatigue going around – we feel it too – but we hope that we have designed a programme that is both engaging and that provides plenty of opportunities for us to talk informally. Some of you will be catching up, others making new personal and professional friendships. Either way, feel free to bring along a beverage and snack of your choice and join in the conversation.

Our theme for this conference is Rebooting. Glancing at the world around us – pandemic, climate crises, housing crises, tech taking over, inequalities deepening – it’s easy to see that the world needs leadership more than ever. But what will that leadership be? What should it be? I’ve taken up too much of your time already, so providing some answers is where you come in. Over to you, ISLC delegates … Leadership … Rebooting.

Owain Smolović Jones, previously Chair of the Organising Committee
Former Director of the Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures (REEF) academic centre of excellence

Access the programme for Sunday 12 December 2021 Access the programme for Monday 13 December 2021 Access the programme for Tuesday 14 December 2021

ISLC Conference 2022 Call for Papers  - Don’t look up! Rebooting leadership with resistance from below 

The next conference – the 20th International Studying Leadership Conference will be held in Brighton, at a seaside hotel venue, hosted by Dennis Tourish and team at the University of Sussex, between 11-13 December 2022.

Full details and call for papers: PDF